Where Nautical Meets Naughty

“When do you think the boat will be ready…”

Where nautical meets naughty? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s in the Haut Marais district of Paris. Sounds a bit like Rodgers & Hammerstein’s, South Pacific, don’t you think? Thank goodness for all things, Saint James. I’m waiting for the big kahuna, Mai Tai in hand. Makes me feel like if a catch a wave, I’ll be standing on top of the world.

Earlier this morning, I begin fishing around in my mahogany chest for that Saint James jumper. You know the one, which flaunts horizontal stripes. I am feeling rather naughty today. Here awaiting my inspection is my favorite navy with red horizontal stripes. It is just the ticket to brave nature and be nautical.

Now, were I Jean Paul Gaultier, I’d dispense with my nautical Saint James jumper and paint my chest. My son claims that I never really grew up. What he is really pointing out is my continual love affair with striped nautical jerseys and sailing shirts with three-quarter sleeves.

Originally made for the French Navy, the Saint James sweater and shirt have been immortalized by the likes of Coco Chanel not to mention a whole bag of other celebs. Just think, this nautical style was loved by Picasso and Brigitte Bardot. The Japanese buy them by the box load. Just last weekend, I saw a gaggle clean out the store in back of Place de la Madelaine.

“Because you love all that jazz…”

With the St Trop’ crowd, Saint James remains the nautical standard. Yes, I know there are others, but this one to quote Jeeves, “stands alone“. Speaking of Jeeves, I wonder what the blazes is keeping that man. I’ve been waiting for my tea for ten minutes now. Nothing rockets my engines better than a good morning cuppa.

If you are in France, be sure to put the factory where Saint James is still made on your must see list. The firm is located in Ducey. It’s the sort of place people dream of. What’s the term I’m looking for? Ah, yes. There it is: buccolic. It’s a fortified town of only 3,000 souls, and it straddles Lower Normandy from Brittany. It is a jewel of a region. It is also a hop, skip, and a jump from Mont Saint Michel.

Now, the Mont has always been part of the St. James logo. The coastal flats are still home to grazing flocks. Although the wool used no longer comes from here, they still manufacture in Normandy. When you visit, Yannick Duval, the company director will explain to you the fabulous evolution of Saint James, and how this region gave birth to a wealth of knitting expertise, which is still used. The people who work at Saint James are proud of their enterprise.

Did you know that 400 tonnes of wool are used per year?

I thought not. I am sure though that you do remember that it was Coco Chanel, who made the sea shirt into one of the hottest unisex styles of all times, when she first introduced them into her Deauville shop in 1917. The rest as they say in show business was history.

The French refer to this classic as the Mariniere. With years of experience under their belts, the company understands that both the wool and the cotton behave differently depending on the humidity in the air. Speaking of the wool, it is a natural fiber, which retains the original lanolin. It has a dry, some would say, rough feel to the touch. It is this sought after quality that makes the item indispensable to sailors and style mavens alike. Since workwear has been gathering more steam among the Fashionistas, it is no wonder that major designers such as Junya Watnabe and Jean-Paul G. continue to work with the firm.

“When you’re sailing to Tortuga…”

Recently, I treated myself to another Saint James jumper in ecru wool with the navy stripes. Well, considering the damp climate, it made sense. The dry wool which is perfected and unique to this part of the world is ideal for European climate.

Listen to this: Did you know that each stripe represents a victory of Napoleon over the English at sea? Interesting, what! Such trivia makes owning these jumpers such a pleasure.

Ah, there’s Jeeves now with my tea, not too hot, not too cold, and not a drop in the saucer.

Article Title: Where Nautical Meets Naughty
Photographs: (1)(2)curated by ES (3)Saint James

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

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Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

Parisian Kit: In Search Of Lost Time

“Because Paris offers real style…”

Parisian Kit essentials are for RedHerring in search of lost time. It is a game of fox & hounds. With the disappearance of Parisian stalwarts such as Old England and Arnys, we corralled a group of Parisian dandies to ferret out where you should shop. Our panel dropped names of bespoke tailors, shoemakers, and hidden gems. In certain circles, each member is known for his exquisite taste on all matters Parisian.

One chalk-stripped fellow rattled off ubiquitous luxury brands. To which another hipster almost choked on his espresso. Wiggling his nose, he retorted: “Too plebeian”. Needless to say, no panel member frequented department stores. As you can see, our panel is spoiled on craftsmanship.

Ironically, Paris is better known for women’s haute couture. Despite the city’s well-heeled reputation, there are Parisian treasures to entice chaps of good standing. So why is the Parisian gents scene so different from other cities?

“When you’re cruising like there’s no mañana…”

For starters, our panel agreed that there is no one neighborhood to investigate. Pedigree menswear is scattered about. If you are looking for great street wear, then I would direct you to the Haut Marais. You should know that tailors worth a detour are not at street level. You must have the address.

In my experience, Parisian gents are quite discrete. In general, the French do not discuss their tailors. Nor for that matter, will they babble about where their shirts are made. Cognescenti know. They spy out the notched lapel and the width of the trouser leg. Shirt buffs examine collars. I know one fellow who has a keen eye for pearl buttons. He is so extreme that he works up a sweat by examining their size, and the manner they were sewn to the shirt front. Experts among experts, you might say. As you can appreciate, Parisian aesthetics are a question of style.

Fashion hounds can cite for you the latest trendy brands. Fanatics focus on artisans, who are not household names. For example, if I was in London, I could identify a gents tailor by the cut. Stylish men can easily spot the difference between a suit cut at Edward Sexton or Anderson & Sheppard. Similarly in Paris, aficionados can identify the cut of Camps de Luca from somebody else. So what’s all the fuss? It comes down to details and personal taste.

Some chaps absolutely adore their jackets waisted. It is a hallmark of fine London tailoring. Others prefer the Neapolitan sense of aesthetics. The Italians have come to specialize in soft shoulders. They give a sense of weightlessness to their garments. Parisian tailors however, have borrowed ideas from both traditions. By doing so, they have articulated their own voice. Therefore, it is harder for a layman to quantify as uniquely Parisian. Suits with that certain je ne sais quoi are for the purists at heart.

Next, there is the issue of cost. Start to think of clothes as an investment. Not that English or Italian tailors are inexpensive. They are not. However, Parisian tailors are pricey. I do however, have recommendations to share. They clearly deliver value for money depending on your budget.

My first counsel is to visit Husbands on the rue Manuel. Nicolas, who owns and runs this place, is fashion savvy. He is also quite the gentleman. With spring on the way, he can update your wardrobe with style. His attitude is preppy modern.

“When something amber is called for…”

My second great discovery is Jean-Emmanuel Moreau. This Parisian gem is just off the rue Marboeuf. You will undoubtedly find his establishment suave. In Jean-Emmanuel’s hands, you will leave with a keen sense of sprezzatura and a pashmina scarf worthy of a prince.

If you fancy bright colors, check out Cifonelli. Hugo Jacomet of the Parisian Gentleman is a big fan. Craft and attention to detail really do matter here. Hugo recently stated: “In the last five years, the scene has changed. Houses such as Cifonelli have had an influx of young customers. They are highly educated about bespoke. I put his down to more mainstream media coverage. A dusty trade has become aspirational again.”

His comments indicate an attitudinal shift among Parisian men. The younger set have started to care again about their appearance. They are unafraid to shop online, follow style blogs, and love Parisian tailors.

Cifonelli is run by Lorenzo and with his cousin Massimo. They have a stylish boutique at street level. Their pret-a-porter is to die for. The apparel is vibrant and contemporary. Their workshop is one floor up and is a tribute to the tailor’s art. Clients have a tendency to prefer lightweight cloths with little structure. The roped shoulder tilted slightly forward is a Cifonelli trademark.

Each coat is cut clean, fitting the chest and waist. Eager to experiment with a more youthful approach to clothing, Lorenzo has come up with designs featuring different pockets, trims and fastenings. These details fascinate the young professional. They clearly make Cifonelli easily recognizable at 100 paces. Whether you like all these bells & whistles is a question of personal taste.

One thing is certain. Here is a straight shooter, no chaser. Perfect for the essential Parisian kit.

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Article Title: Parisian Kit: In Search For Lost Time
Photographs: (1)(3)jeanemmanuelmoreau (2)curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane

Dateline Naples: Fancy Ties Under The Volcano

“This fashion scene is getting ready to blow…”

You may claim that you have better things to do than to fly down to Naples in order to buy ties. All the more reason to discuss gents neckwear with Maurizio Marinella. He is affable and his store is charming. If you need further incentive, there are the beautiful women. Think Sophia Loren. Every beautiful woman loves a well-dressed gent who recognizes that fashion means the right tie. It certainly adds panache to any suit. Call it the perfect choreography to good taste.

Marinella ties have become such a phenomenon, that more than one luxury group has proposed to buy this establishment. Fortunately, he has not succumbed. Berlutti and Moyat might be new editions to the “brand is mightier than the sword”, but Maurizio Marinella doesn’t believe this is the way forward.

He is a gentleman who knows that quality cannot be mass produced and prefers to maintain the highest standards. His shop sits in the Chaia district, which is the chicest neighborhood in the city. His grandfather opened this boutique in 1914. Now, you can’t beat that for genuine heritage.

“We grow up with the fear that we will be considered people who only have mandolins, make pizza and mozzarella”, states Maurizio. “But actually I, and many others like me, show that there is also a Naples that produces, that works, that gets up at six in the morning, and still manages to be successful on an international level.”

“Where shopping is always paradise…”

Unlike other manufacturers of ties, his are clearly in another league. The rich and the famous have all paid house calls: Bill Clinton, Luchino Visconti, Aristotle Onassis, Gabriele D’Annunzio, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Giovanni Agnelli. His business is a lesson in sustainability. Call it “small is beautiful”. Why tamper with excellence? Many pundits have asked him why he doesn’t open a chain of boutiques to satisfy global demand.

“Because I am a craftsman and I wish to remain a craftsman”, replies Maurizio Marinella. “I am not interested in large numbers and I would rather keep the tradition alive and fruitful, together with the magic that accompanies it.”

“Because panache is Neapolitan style…”

Considering the price of a tie from Hermes, I wondered how much does a Marinella cost? The answer is surprising: “Between 80 and 90 euros. Less than many ties produced industrially by some of the great names of Italian and French fashion.”

I wondered, is it possible to survive on just selling ties? The answer is a demonstrative “yes”. There’s an attitude you can count on. I won’t suggest that you throw out your current tie collection, but I would give serious consideration to giving them to charity and heading off to Naples. The firm also does some rather nice cuff links. Still need another reason to fly down to Naples? Capri is just a stone’s throw across the bay and is picture perfect.

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Article Title: Dateline Naples: Fashion Under The Volcano
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at RedHerring, a digital communications agency under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit RedHerring: Life In The Fast Lane